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Response to the draft National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity

2011: The Royal Society of New Zealand contributed to the Ministry for the Environment consultation on the proposed national policy statement on indigenous biodiversity.

The Royal Society of New Zealand welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Ministry for the Environment consultation on the proposed national policy statement on indigenous biodiversity. The Society operates under an Act of Parliament to advance and promote science and technology in New Zealand and provide expert advice to the Government and the community.

The Royal Society of New Zealand welcomes the purposes of the proposed National Policy Statement (NPS) which build on the non-statutory guidelines previously published by the Ministry for the Environment and the Department of Conservation. The largest component of indigenous biodiversity in New Zealand is the terrestrial invertebrates of which insects have the highest number of species. The few studies to date indicate that most indigenous insects are restricted to indigenous habitats and while some indigenous species will rapidly colonize new areas, most species do not move readily. This is equally true for soil and litter dwelling species and for those inhabiting plants. To be meaningful The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity needs to be relevant and cover invertebrates, microbiota (e.g. nematodes), fungi, lower plants (mosses, liverworts, lichens) and algae, as well as indigenous birds, other vertebrates and plants.

There is also concern over the application of the NPS in its apparent restriction of water-based biodiversity to wetlands, potentially excluding rivers and lakes and the biodiversity of freshwater species. It also does not apply to coastal marine areas, nor public conservation land, potentially resulting in complications for flora and fauna whose habitats overlap with these areas, such as freshwater fish whose juvenile stages migrate through coastal areas.

The Response is available for download here